Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Life Panel

Ti Guahu fuma'tinas este na pinenta. Hu sodda' gi Mari Kurisato.

An American's Cry for Help
By Keith Olbermann
Anchor, 'Countdown'
Special Comment
updated 9:31 p.m. ET Feb. 24, 2010

Finally tonight, a Special Comment about health care reform and tomorrow's summit at Blair House. If I prove to have trouble getting through this, I apologize in advance. Last Friday Night my father asked me to kill him. We were just shy of six months since he was hospitalized and it was the end of a long day at the end of a longer week.

Not to get too clinical or too grotesque on you, but he'd had his colon removed at the end of September and that went so well that it was no more complicated than an appendectomy. But what followed was a series of infections, like storms in the monsoon season, one arriving, blossoming, inundating him, my Dad shaking it off and cheerfully bouncing back, and then within days another one coming in to flatten him once again.

Pneumonia, three or four times — I've lost count. Kidney failure, liver failure — the liver failure got better, remarkably enough. Dialysis, feeding tubes, drainage taps, drainage tubes, breathing tubes. Couldn't talk through that. Then he got strong enough and they could put a cap on the breathing tube and one day he scared the crap out of a friend of his who didn't know, who came in and gave him the customary "how you doin' Ted?" only to jump out of his shoes when my father suddenly and gleefully answered him in a strong full voice, "surprisingly well."

Sometimes he swelled up and looked like as puffy as prizefighter who'd had a bad night.

Sometimes he'd get dialysis so effective or an antibiotic so specific that he would look like he did twenty-five years ago.

Three weeks ago they had found something extraordinary. A nurse noticed what seemed like a minor infection just below the surface of the skin, a kind of super-pimple if you will. It was actually the edge of a series of abscesses which would be drained and would produce, all told, about six liters of infected stuff. Six liters. You know how much that is? You know what that looks like? You don't want to know.

But you do want to know it's been found because it means he hasn't been weak all this time, he's been incredibly, inhumanly strong. The abscesses were swimming pools for these infections. The strongest one would emerge, then my Dad with the help of the antibiotics would kill it off, then the antibiotics would be discontinued, and the next infection would pop out and challenge him.

As he pointed out you know: just like the organized crime families. Then last week they found another abscess of sorts, in the chest. So they needed to put in drains there, too. This was Friday morning. His surgical team came to see him, he did his non-verbal caricature of their chief, they laughed like hell, they numbed him up, snip snip, plug plug, and this infection starts draining, and they leave him alone for awhile.

And then in the afternoon they changed a few of the plugs the IV's attach to. And the respiratory therapist had been in, checking the ventilator and his tubes because there was a leak somewhere. And to improve dialysis, they changed his dialysis port. And then in the evening they needed a CAT-scan of his chest to make sure the drains were in the right place. And they had to change a dressing on some bad skin. And every hour they had to draw blood to check how well he was getting oxygen. And then at night it was time for dialysis using the new port.

And that's when I showed up. My father was a little annoyed, the way he often gets in there annoyed about all the activity. That day, it was like being Sisyphus with the boulder, only at the top of the hill, when he loses the boulder, it doesn't just roll back down hill, it rolls over him, first.

He's brave about pain, provided you warn him in advance, and provided the sheer volume of activity doesn't terrify him. As in terrorism, it isn't just terror when it happens, it's terror that it might happen. So he's annoyed, but in a good mood, and, as I usually do, I sit down to read to him. Thurber. I've been reading him a lot of James Thurber short stories lately and he's insisted that I should do it on the show, and we'll see about that. But a few pages in, the x-ray technician shows up.

They have to take one more picture of him, to see if those new drains in his chest are working. And I have to leave his room for, at most, three minutes. I come back in and my father is thrashing his head back and forth. You can't hear him, he can't speak at the moment, but you become a lip-reader in those circumstances and this one word he keeps repeating is not tough to discern.

"Help." He is mouthing the word "help," over and over and over again. And I get his attention. He is in full panic. Maybe the x-ray tech hurt my Dad's back, or touched those new chest drains — more likely he did nothing very much at all. But it was just too much for my father.
"Stop this," he mouths. "Stop, stop, stop." And I say to him: I know for a fact they are not doing anything more to you tonight. And he looks at me and starts thrashing his head again: "Help, help, help."

I get his attention again. I ask him: do you want me to stop all of this? And he looks at me and mouths "yes." And I ask him: you understand what happens then. And he looks at me and mouths "yes." And I ask him: you realize you are not terminally ill, and if we do stop all of this, it might not be quick. And he mouths "stop this." And I say, trying to joke him out of it — and trust me, gallows humor is your best defense in this situation — "what? You want me to smother you with a pillow?" And he mouths "yes — kill me."

I told him that obviously I wouldn't do that, but I would go and talk to the doctors. When I came back, I told him they'd be really put out by this, because he wasn't sick enough and all the indications were he could still fight off what remained of the infections. And he went back to thrashing his head and mouthing "help" because clearly I was not giving him the sense of relief — relief from the paradoxical truth that people desperately trying to save your life, sometimes manage only to torture you. Of course, I actually was getting him that sense of relief.

When I went to see the Surgical Intensive Care Unit resident I told him my Dad had hit his wall. That he couldn't take any other work, that it was now terrifying torture, that he needed it to stop. But I said, look, I'm his health proxy, we've had conversations about end-of-life care — we've had them in here, we've had them when he was home and well, I'm not operating in the dark here. I said I think he really wants the one word he keeps mouthing: He wants help. Is there any medical reason not to give him some sedation, a little mental vacation from being a patient?

The resident thought that was a damn good idea and that it would help his breathing, which the respiratory therapist had noticed wasn't quite right. So when I came in and gave my father the song and dance about how "put out" the doctors were, really, I was just stalling. I started to read to him again, and he was still thrashing his head from side to side in frustration, and then he started to calm down and enjoy the story and as he began to rest, the nurse slipped in and injected a sedative into one of his IV's.

And as I left that night the full impact of these last six months washed over me. What I had done, conferring with the resident in ICU, the conversation about my father's panicky, not-in-complete-control-of-his-faculties demand that all treatment stop, about the options and the consequences and the compromise — the sedation — the help for a brave man who just needed a break… that conversation, that one — was what these ghouls who are walking into Blair House tomorrow morning decided to call "death panels."

Your right to have that conversation with a doctor, not the government, but a doctor and your right to have insurance pay for his expertise on what your options are when Dad says "kill me" or what your options are when Dad is in a coma and can't tell you a damn thing, or what your options are when everybody is healthy and happy and coherent and you're just planning ahead your right to have the guidance and the reassurance of a professional who can lay that out for you that's a quote "death panel."

That, right now, is the legacy of the protests of these sub-humans who get paid by the insurance companies, who say these things for their own political gain or like that one fiend or money. For money Betsy McCaughey told people that this conversation about life and death and relief and release, and also about no, keep treating him no matter what happens, until the nation runs out of medicine, she told people it's a death panel and she did that for money.

It's a life panel. A life panel, it can save the pain of the patient and the family it is the difference between you guessing what happens next, and you being informed about what probably will, and that's the difference between you sleeping at night or second-guessing and third-guessing and thirtieth-guessing. And it can also be the place where the family says 'we want you to keep him alive no matter what, we believe in miracles' and the doctor saying yes.

Nobody gets to say no except the patient and the family. It's a life panel. And damn those who call it otherwise to hell. And that brings up the other point of all this. They've rolled my father under every piece of machinery in there except an atom-splitter. They've pumped him full of every drug and remedy. And he's got Medicare and a supplemental insurance and my out-of-pocket medical bills over the last six months have been greater than my Dad's have.

And why in the hell should that not be true of everybody, in every hospital, in every sick room, in every clinic, in this country? What is this country for if not to take care of its people? Because whatever I've been through these last six months and whatever my Dad's been through, not once were our fears or our decisions amplified by the further horror of wondering how in the hell we would pay for this. What about families having these conversations tonight about kids? Or about uninsured adults?

Or what about the guy out there whose father is 50 and he's mouthing the word "help" and the guy knows what his father doesn't know that the insurance company has just declared the illness the father has is a "pre-existing condition" and he has no insurance, and when that son goes out to talk to that doctor about what to do next, even if there's a chance of recovery, that son can't afford to pay for it! That is the goddamned death panel, Sarah Palin.

Since Friday night, my father has been comfortable. He has been breathing well, and there has been no sign of stress or discomfort. He has also not awakened. His white blood cell count, the indicator of infection, is now at about four or five times normal. Doubtlessly, in removing that much infection from him, some of it got loose and into his bloodstream.

He's not being sedated any more; he only has the strength to fight off the infections, or wake up — not both. We're hoping he does the first, then the latter. We're prepared for the probability that he will do neither. His team and I had another "life panel" discussion not six hours ago. And thank God I had those conversation with my father.

Thank God I got his instructions about when to use my judgment and when to stick with his; when if he's capable of recovery to let them use everything they have and when to make sure they're not just keeping him alive with no hope; when to listen to the instruction "help" — first, and then the one about "stop" — later.

So, considering that if he does not recover, you will not see me here for awhile, I have some requests. First of you: Please have this conversation with your loved ones. Don't wait. Do it now. It's tough. It acknowledges death. And it also narrows the gray area you or they will face, from infinity to about a foot wide. It is my greatest comfort right now and I want it to be yours.

And to the politicians who go into Blair House tomorrow for the summit: I have some requests as well. Leave your egos at the door. I want, I demand, that you give everybody in this country a chance at the care my father has gotten. And I demand, that you enact this most generous and most kind aspect of the reform proposed: the right to bill the damned insurance company for the conversation about what to do when the time comes, the Life Panel.

And I want all of you to think of somebody lying in a hospital bed tonight who needed that care and needed that conversation, and imagine that that is your father, or mother, or son, or daughter, or wife, or husband, or partner. If you cannot do that, if you cannot put aside the meaninglessness of your political careers for this, my request to you then, is that you not come back out of that meeting for you would not be worthy of being with the real people of this country who suffer, and suffer again because you have acted on behalf of the corporations and not the people.

If you cannot do this, go into that room and stay there and we'll get new ones to replace your worthless roles in the life of our country. My father cannot speak for himself. He appointed me to do so for him and I haven't the slightest doubt he wants me to say this tonight, right now.

He mouthed the words to me and I will now give them such voice as I have to you going into that summit tomorrow. Help. Help. Help. Help.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sachin's 200

Last night, I got to watch (mismo read along with the commentary) as Sachin Tendulkar scored the first ever double century in an ODI match, when he made 200* against South Africa in Gwalior.

It was an incredible feat, breaking the previous records of 194 and 194*, but even more so because of the fact that Tendulkar is almost 37 years old and has had a fantastic past year in both ODI and Test cricket. In the past 12 months he's collected 6 Test hundreds and 4 ODI hundreds. With last night's 200 not out, he is just seven shy of completing a century of international centuries (from Tests and ODIs combined).

I watched a match a few weeks ago where Chris Coventry a Zimbabwe player challenged to surpass Saeed Anwar's record initial record of 194, but only ended up tying it. Witnessing Tendulkar's feat last night, and this coming when he has been on an incredible streak lately was very exciting to watch.

I'm pasting some pictures and articles about this below.


Sachin Tendulkar immortal at 200
Partha Bhaduri & Vikas Singh
The Times of India
Feb 25, 2010

Even before he took guard at Gwalior, Sachin Tendulkar's place in the pantheon of cricketing gods was assured. He had already amassed both the highest number of runs and the maximum tons in Tests and one-dayers alike.

If devout worshippers had any reason to quibble, it was that there was no one record-shattering innings - Brian Lara has the highest Test score of 400 and Saeed Anwar and the little-known Charles Coventry shared the ODI record of 194.

Just 147 balls later, Tendulkar set the record straight in emphatic fashion. A staggering 2,961 matches and almost 39 years after the first ODI was played - and remember, many ODIs in the early years featured innings of 60 overs each, which gave batsmen more scoring opportunities - the Little Legend finally became the first cricketer to score 200 in a one-dayer, propelled by a record 25 fours in one knock.

The landmark 200 came in the final over of the innings, though Sachin crossed the previous record of 194 in the 46th over; in the interim, several lustily-hit fours and sixes by M S Dhoni were accompanied by groans from millions of spectators desperate to see Sachin on strike.

The big moment, though, finally arrived, crowning what is fast turning into one of Sachin's most productive periods with the bat. The last 12 months have seen him score 10 international hundreds: six in Tests - including four centuries in his last four Tests - and four in ODIs.

Three of those 4 ODI tons - Wednesday's 200, the unforgettable 175 against Australia last November and the brilliant 163 in New Zealand last March - are among his four highest ODI scores. Only his previous highest score of 186, against the Kiwis, falls outside this golden patch.

Some years ago, as Sachin struggled with injury and a dip in form, some commentators had the temerity to suggest that Ricky Ponting would eventually overhaul his records.

Over the past 12 months, though, Sachin has once again opened up a yawning gap between himself and all his contemporaries, and ensured that if at all any comparisons have to be made, they should be with another Australian - Don Bradman, who was famously reminded of himself when watching Sachin bat.

True, no one comes close to the Don's amazing average of 99.94, or his phenomenal 29 centuries from just 52 Tests. But the fact that Sachin is breaking records barely two months shy of his 37th birthday testifies both to remarkable longevity and an insatiable appetite.

Indeed, there are no speed limits on Sachin Tendulkar's road to excellence. After two decades of basking in the glory of his sporting pre-eminence on the world stage, India is now privileged to witness the second coming of the most complete and prolific batsman of this age. Even the back-breaking expectations of a billion unrealistic fans, it seems, are a pittance compared to the soaring aspirations of the man himself.

Over the last year, Sachin has taken his skills to a whole new level of consistency. The body, close to breakdown in the mid-2000s, has been chiselled to accessorize this new-found garb of perfection. Back in 1998, he had scored 12 international tons, 9 in ODIs and 3 in Tests. This purple patch has turned back the clock.

In the last 12 months, he has been the only player to score six hundreds in 10 Tests, at an average of 78.3. In 20 ODIs, a format in which his records are set in stone, he has notched up 1158 runs at 72.37, with 4 hundreds.

How about a Test triple, Sachin?

In Gwalior, Tendulkar strutted on his stage like a man possessed, ran between the wickets like a 20-year-old and reaffirmed his relevance in modern cricket's rapidly-changing dynamics.

When it finally came to pass, the unbeaten double ton almost seemed a scary inevitability. There were no cramps, no nerves, just steely intent to go on with a ruthlessly dominating display. Where have all the years gone?

Commentator Ravi Shastri repeatedly referred to him as a run machine, but that's only a half-Sach. Tendulkar isn't a mundane machine. Instead, he scripts his achievements with soul. This is a man for whom excellence is a habit, who is so devoted to his craft, so enthusiastic still, that with experience he has mastered the art of seamlessly binding talent, discipline and perspicacity, all without compromising on style, for maximum gain in a team cause. The end result is machine-like consistency.

Treasure this new, improved Tendulkar. He is, by far, still India's most valuable player, and will remain so till he decides to call it quits. But that's for later: after Gwalior, and given the form he is in, it's time to ask what's next. Maybe a 100 international hundreds, given that 93 are already in the bag?

* Highest run-getter in ODIs, with 17,598 runs from 442 matches. Jayasuriya (13,428) and Ponting (12,731) follow

* Most centuries in ODIs (46), followed by Ricky Ponting (29) and Sanath Jayasuriya (28)

* Since Feb 24, 2009 has scored 1,158 runs in 20 ODIs, with 4 tons, averaging 72.37. In the preceding 12 months, had scored 352 runs from 9 ODIs at an average of 44

* His double century is the first in 39 years of ODIs, including 60-overs-a-side matches

* Highest scorer in Tests, with 13,447 runs from 166 matches. Next best Lara (retired with 11,953) and Ponting (playing with 11,859)

* Most Test centuries (47), well ahead of Ponting (39) and Kallis (34) among active players, and retd Lara and Gavaskar (34 each)

* In 2010, has already scored 477 runs averaging 95.40. Only Hashim Amla (674) has scored more Test runs this year

* In his last 10 Tests, has scored 1,018 runs at an average of 78.3 and is the only one with 6 tons in the last 12 months. In the previous 10 Tests, he had 647 runs and averaged just 38.08


Flawless Tendulkar 200 gives India series
The Bulletin by Kanishkaa Balachandran
February 24, 2010

It took nearly 40 years of waiting and it was well worth it. Sachin Tendulkar chose one of the better bowling attacks doing the rounds, to eclipse the record for the highest score, before bringing up the first ever double-hundred in ODI history. The spectators at the Captain Roop Singh Stadium became the envy of Indian cricket fans as they witnessed one of the country's favourite sporting heroes play a breathtaking innings which not only set up a 153-run annihilation but also the series victory. He may have been run-out cheaply in the previous match, but nothing could deny him today - be it bowlers, fielders, mix-ups or cramps. Dinesh Karthik, Yusuf Pathan and MS Dhoni stood by and admired as the master unfurled all the shots in his repertoire.

At 36, Tendulkar hasn't shown signs of ageing, and his sparkling touch in both forms of the game has ruled out all possibilities of him checking out anytime soon. Fatigue, cramps and paucity of time have stood in the way of batsmen going that extra mile to get to the 200-mark. Tendulkar did cramp up after crossing 150, but he didn't opt for a runner. His experience of 20 years at the international level came into play in this historic innings, staying at the crease from the first ball to the last, never once losing focus. There were no chances offered, no dropped catches, making his innings absolutely flawless.

A swirl of emotions must have run through his mind as he approached one record after another but he ensured he was never lost in the moment. His running between the wickets remained just as swift as it had been at the start of the innings. The humidity in Gwalior was bound to test him but he stood above it all and played like he owned the game, toying with the bowling with a mix of nonchalance and brute power.

In the 46th over, with a flick for two past short fine-leg, Tendulkar broke the record for the highest ODI score, going past the 194 made by Zimbabwe's Charles Coventry and Pakistan's Saeed Anwar, and to say that he acknowledged his feat modestly would be an understatement. His muted celebration on going past 194, true to style, made his innings all the more endearing. He didn't raise his bat, merely shook hands with Mark Boucher and simply carried on batting amid the din. Coming from a man who is not known to showing too much emotion with the bat in hand, it wasn't surprising. He reserved his celebrations for the magic figure of 200, which he reached in the final over with a squirt off Charl Langeveldt past backward point. He raised his bat, took off his helmet and looked up at the skies and it was only fitting that one-day cricket's highest run-getter reached the landmark.

Tendulkar's innings featured strokes of the highest quality, but his true genius was exemplified by one particular shot which rendered even the best bowler in the world helpless. In the first over of the batting Powerplay - taken in the 35th over - Dale Steyn fired it in the block-hole for three deliveries outside off to keep him quiet. Tendulkar, feeling the need to improvise, walked right across his stumps and nonchalantly flicked him across the line, hopping in his crease on one leg to bisect the gap at midwicket. A helpless Steyn watched the ball speed away and merely shrugged his shoulders. There was no use searching for excuses or venting frustrations at the temerity of that shot. It was just that kind of afternoon for the bowlers.

It wasn't all just about the cheekiness of his shots. His timing and placement were the hallmarks at the start of his innings. On a road of a pitch which offered no margin of error for the bowlers, he squeezed out full deliveries past the covers and off his pads. With no seam movement on offer, Jacques Kallis took the slips off and placed them in catching positions within the 15-yard circle, hoping to induce a mistake. But Tendulkar outplayed all of them, making room to manoeuver it past a number of green shirts. There were a minimum of two runs on offer each time the ball was placed wide of them and the quick outfield did the rest.

Once he got his eye in, the short boundaries and the flat pitch were too inviting. Virender Sehwag's dismissal for 11, caught at third man, was just an aberration as Karthik, Pathan and Dhoni traded cricket bats for golf clubs. Driving and lofting through the line had never been this easy. Tendulkar could have driven them inside out in his sleep.

The two century stands, with Karthik and then with Dhoni, may well get lost in the scorecard but they were vital building blocks. Karthik rotated the strike well in their stand of 194, struck three clean sixes and helped himself to his career-best performance. That partnership sent out ominous signs to the South Africans that they were in for something massive. Add Dhoni's bludgeoning hits and scoops and you had a score in excess of 400.

Tendulkar reached his fifty off 37 balls and his century off 90. Ironically, he struck his first six - over long-on - when on 111. Pathan bashed it around at the other end, clubbing full tosses and short deliveries in his 23-ball 36, as India amassed 63 runs in the batting Powerplay. The South African seamers made the mistake of trying to bowl too fast and as a result, sent down too many full tosses and full deliveries. The unplayable yorkers remained elusive and Tendulkar, who was seeing it like a beach ball, picked the gaps, made room and improvised.

He reached his 150 by making room to Parnell and chipping him over midwicket with a simple bat twirl at the point of contact. The heartbreak of Hyderabad, when his scintillating 175 all but won India the match against Australia last year, must have lingered in his mind as he approached that score again. A towering six over long-on later, he not only eclipsed Kapil Dev's 175 but also looked set to wipe out his own record. He started clutching his thighs, indicating that cramps had set in, but even that could not stop him today.

He equalled his highest score of 186 by pulling a lollipop of a full toss off Kallis and broke his own and India's record with a single to square leg. Fortunately, he didn't have to do much running and played the spectator's role for a change as Dhoni bulldozed his way to a 35-ball 68, muscling four sixes. The Dhoni bottom-hand is the strongest in the business these days and the exhausted spectators had enough energy left in their vocal chords to cheer him on as well.

The record of 200, however, was yet to be attained and the crowd were desperate for Tendulkar to get the strike. Dhoni tore into Steyn for 17 off the 49th over and retained the strike for the 50th. After hammering the first ball of the 50th for six, he shoveled a full toss to deep midwicket where Hashim Amla made a brilliant save. Tendulkar settled for a single and the crowd were on their feet as they watched him make history. It was all the more fitting for another reason because it was on this very day, back in 1988, that he and Vinod Kambli added a mammoth 664 - then a world record - in a school match.

There was to be no repeat of the 434-chase at the Wanderers, when South Africa took guard, perhaps mentally and physically shaken after the assault, and with a partisan crowd to contend with. AB de Villiers' attacking ton got completely lost in the chase as South Africa merely went through the motions. It was all a question of how quickly India could wrap it up.

Herschelle Gibbs, Hashim Amla, Roelof van der Merwe and Jacques Kallis all got out cheaply within the first 15 overs. de Villiers motored along at more than a run-a-ball, and collected 13 fours and two sixes. South Africa had to rely on the services of nine men to muster 200 - for India one man sufficed.

Tendulkar's knock drew parallels with Brendon McCullum's frenetic 158 in the IPL opener in Bangalore two years ago. The match was all about individual brilliance but not a contest. While such games are good in small doses, for one-day cricket to survive on the whole, it needs more contests between bat and ball.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Buildup/Breakdown #12: Gambatte!

"Demand, don't ask."

This is something that people have been telling Guam's leaders for years now about the military buildup, that being assertive is a far better strategy than being coy or meek. A group of Japanese Diet members who came to Guam last week, helped remind Guam's leaders of that simple fact. Given the magnitude of what the US military is planning for Guam, there is no room to be shy or whimpy about this. There is really no point in that, sen taibali ayu na hinasso.
For years, Camacho's approach to the military buildup was filtered through that stupid idea that emerged after the closures of US bases on Guam in the early 1990's and the activism of the same period: that Guam might be pathetic and powerless most of the time, but it somehow has this strange, bewildering ability to hurt the military's feelings and chase them away. Although Camacho and others who supported the buildup since it was first announced, would always speak of the buildup through a mystical fog of inevitability, and that no matter what we do, it will happen, and so we can either work with it or ignore it, there was always one key way in which they imagined that somehow Guam did have a say in this. The secret power, the secret say that Guam did have, was not one to be bragged about, but rather one to be feared. Although Guam did not have the power to say no, or make any demands about the buildup, the nervousness and fear in which many leaders such as Camacho and Congresswoman Bordallo spoke of the buildup, reflected the fact that Guam's power in the moment, was not that it could say no, but rather that it could screw the whole thing up and keep it from happening.

The inability of so many Guam leaders to not stand up earlier and not take any concrete action with regards to stopping, stalling or redirecting this buildup was because of that shared belief that the only power Guam had here was something that it didn't want. There was a fear, that if Guam were to act the way it had before, the anti-Federales rhetoric and the constant critiques of the military presence, then the US might just decide to not send the Marines to Guam.

That's the philosophy in Chamorro of being ekpe', of being prone to only destroy, to knock things over, to cause accidents, to screw things up. It is absolutely not a position of strength, but one where you always see yourself as only being able to mess things up, and never create or build yourself up. With all the metaphors of massive change and destruction being brought to Guam by 2014, we end up weakening ourselves even more by seeing ourselves through this lens.

Instead, we need to be thinking and acting based on the idea that we can make decisions for ourselves and that we can be trusted to take care of ourselves. To think of this from a colonial perspective, that fundamental belief in the inferiority and inadequacy of the colonized people, will keep them (even in their own minds) forever dependent upon the colonizer for everything. Even if the colonizer, his minions and his flag leave the colonies, so long as that dependency remains, so long as the colonized think of themselves through that idea of them being manekpe' and not manmetgot, they will remain colonized. This is the desire which keeps most postcolonies or formerly colonized territories stagnant and unable to progress, is that nostalgia for the order and the prosperity that the colonies once had, when their former master was in charge.

Robert Underwood in his article "Red, Whitewash and Blue: Painting Over the Chamorro Experience" makes a very good argument, that for generations after World War II, Chamorros played the loyal brown dupe card in order to help develop their island and get Federal funds to do it. They weren't really these superpatriotic, almost brainwashed people, but relied on that narrative in order to establish a place of power for themselves in relation to the United States. In later work Underwood would enhance this argument, by stating that this was particularly effective for the first four decades after World War II, when both houses of Congress were full of WWII vets, for whom that story of Chamorro loyalty and gratitude had great resonance.

In Guam's case now however, performing that same subservient, quiet and always respectful role is most likely not the best course of action. Keeping your mouth shut, or remaining glued to your chair out of fear that if you say or do anything, Uncle Sam will take his basket full of Federal dollars away from you is no way to live. They say that you should not bite the hand that feeds you, ti debi di un akka' i kannai ni' muna'boboka hao (pat muna'la'la'la' hao). But the truth is that you only ever truly live, by doing precisely that, by daring to rattle or break the chains that everyone around you says cannot and must not be broken. And Guam, in terms of this military buildup will (depending on your perspective) only survive this buildup, or benefit from this buildup, if it learns that lesson and dares to speak up, assert itself and bite Uncle Sam's hand.


Japanese parliamentarian advises Guam to be more assertive
by Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Marianas Variety

BOTH the U.S. and Japanese governments have equal responsibilities to respond to every issue raised by Guam pertaining to the Marines’ relocation, but the people of the island must learn to be more assertive, according to Japanese parliamentarian Mikio Shimoji.

“Don’t ask, don’t say ‘please;’ demand,” Shimoji said in an interview with Variety last night. “It is very important that the people of Guam speak out and stand up for their rights. If you don’t say anything, nothing will happen.”

Shimoji doesn’t dismiss the possibility of Guam officials directly approaching the Japanese government for assistance.

When asked if the Japanese parliament would respond accordingly to Guam’s request for a portion of Japan’s $6 billion allocation for troop realignment, Shimoji replied, “Why not?”

He said “it is a mistake” on the part of the U.S. government to ignore the cost that will be incurred by the local community as a result of the military buildup.

“The U.S. government clearly said that they are not enthusiastic about doing anything outside the fence. It is wrong,” Shimoji said through an interpreter.

“You must continue to raise your voice; it’s not too late. You have the right to raise your voice to the government of Japan, as well,” he added.


Shimoji is the chief of the policy making board of the New People’s Party, one of the partners in Japan’s center-left ruling coalition.
He is among the members of the Japanese Diet who arrived on Guam last night to assess the island’s situation and evaluate its capacity to handle the over 8,000 Marines and 10,000 dependents who will be relocated from Okinawa to Guam.

He was accompanied by fellow House members Abe Tomoko, Hattori Ryoichi and Yokota Syozo, who all represent the Social Democratic Party.

The Japanese delegation met last night with Speaker Judi Won Pat and Sen. Tina Muউa-Barnes during a dinner reception hosted by Ken Haga, president of the US. Explore & Study, Inc. at the Holiday Resort.

“Our sentiment three years ago is not the same as our sentiment today,” Won Pat told the Japanese parliamentarians. “Three years, the community might be pro-buildup, but that sentiment has changed after realizing its impact based on what we have read in the draft environmental impact statement,” Won Pat said.

Shimoji assured Won Pat and Muña-Barnes that the size of the troops that will be relocated to Guam will be not be bigger than what was agreed upon in the 2006 accord between the U.S. and Japan.

“We appreciate Guam for accepting the Marines who will be removed from Okinawa. This is why the Japanese government has a responsibility to listen to the people of Guam,” Shimoji said. “We will make sure that the forces that will be relocated to Guam are no bigger than what will be left in Japan.”


“I’m beginning to understand Guam’s situation more,” Shimoji said, as he noted the parallelism between Guam and Okinawa, which are both geographically and politically isolated.

“Guam will now be sharing the burden of Okinawa,” he said.

As to the lack of military transparency on the planning process for Guam buildup, Shimoji recalled that Okinawa experienced the same exclusion when the U.S. bases were in the process of being installed on the island. “The U.S. did not disclose the process,” he said.

“So, it’s history repeating itself,” Barnes said.

“We can’t let history repeat itself. We have to join forces to prevent it from happening again,” Shimoji said.

The delegation is scheduled to visit the base facilities today before meeting Gov. Felix P. Camacho at 2 p.m., but the Japanese officials said they are willing to cancel some of their appointments so they can meet with members of the legislature today. They are leaving tonight.

No More Troops
Friday, 12 February 2010 03:52 by Therese Hart
Marianas Variety
Japanese officials given copy of ‘sentiment’ resolution

LAWMAKERS yesterday unanimously passed a resolution that reiterates the island residents’ sentiments on the military’s draft environmental impact statement, which they consider “grossly flawed.”

Visiting members of Japan’s House of Representatives assured senators that there will be no additional troops that will be deployed to Guam beyond the number originally agreed upon between The United States and Japan.

Senator Rory Respicio, author of Resolution 275, described the legislature’s action as a tremendous victory for the people of Guam. He said the resolution reflects months of input based on the review of the draft impact report.

“The legislature’s approach to this military buildup is that we have to represent the people’s feelings on this matter,” said the lawmaker.

Respicio said Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo has made a commitment to represent the legislature’s position, which reflects the sentiments of the people.

Respicio hopes for Gov. Felix Camacho’s support for the resolution and to give his commitment as well.

Two members of Japan’s Diet, Mikio Shimoji of the People’s New Party and Tomoko Abe of the Social Democrat Party, made a brief stop at the legislature during yesterday’s session. The resolution was presented to the two Japanese lawmakers.

“What we saw today, we don’t think that there’s enough capacity for more forces because of the infrastructure situation in Guam,” Shimoji said through an interpreter. “And considering the sentiments and motivations of the people of Guam, at this point, there cannot be additional forces from Japan.”

Shimoji also said that the United States and Japan must both share equal responsibility for the buildup. He said when he returns to Japan, he and other members of the delegation will share with their colleagues the sentiments of Guam residents about the buildup.

Committeewoman on the Guam Military Buildup, Sen. Judi Guthertz said that
“The people of Guam should be proud of the legislature for standing up for them and for trying to make certain that this buildup will not be one sided but that it will benefit everyone who calls Guam home now and in the future,” said Sen. Judi Guthertz, chairman of the military buildup committee.

Guthertz said that was the goal of lawmakers when they drafted the resolution. “I encourage the people of Guam to read the resolution so that they can see what the legislature said and what we’re trying to accomplish,” said the lawmaker.

Speaker Judi Won Pat said the resolution is a very significant piece of document that would change Japan’s impression of Guam’s position on the military buildup.

Japanese Diet members told Won Pat that they were always under the impression, three to four years ago, that 80 to 90 percent of Guam residents were in favor of the buildup. “That was the story they were given,” Won Pat said.

They were very curious to find what the true sentiments were and this is why they made the effort to visit the Guam Legislature when they learned that Resolution 275 was being heard regarding the buildup.

“We told them that it will contain the sentiments of the people, and that to them was far more important—that they know what the military side of the story is, and they wanted to know the people of Guam’s story, too,” said the speaker.

Won Pat said members of the Japanese Diet were very humble when they acknowledged that Japan has an equal responsibility as the United States in terms of the Marines’ relocation as stated in the U.S. and Japan agreement.

“To us, this speaks volumes because this is the first time any government has ever said that—admitting that share in the responsibility,” said Won Pat.

The delegation left Guam yesterday afternoon.

Monday, February 22, 2010

First Tragedy, Then Farce

Hegel once said that every great thing, whether it be a person, event or thing, will appear not just once, but twice.

Karl Marx later added on to this notion, that every potentially revolution moment or figure, must emerge and then be exorcised, by agreeing with Hegel’s thesis, but augmenting it as follows:

“Hegel remarks somewhere that all facts and personages of great importance in world history occur, as it were, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce.”

As Guam winds down to the end of the second term of Felix Camacho as governor, this philosophical notion has for some reason been heavily on my mind. In the United States last year, when George W. Bush was officially no longer the President of the United States, it signified the end of an era, since for close to an entire decade, the great ship of the American state, had him at its helm. You would have to be a fool not to look back at such a length of time, and either blur things to where they weren’t as bad as they seemed at the times, or add things up, take stock and grind your teeth angrily as you realize that they were actually, when all totaled up, far worse than you thought at the time.
As I type this, campaigns to replace Felix Camacho are gearing up (or have been geared up for a while), and they help highlight the fact that we are nearing the end of our own era of political governance on Guam. I for one, never voted for Felix Camacho, and never had much faith in him as a leader. (Ga’o-ku i na dos biaha na inikak as Guiya).
After his first gubernatorial victory in 2002, I did some research into campaigning and politics on Guam, since I was considering writing about that election for my master’s thesis in Micronesian Studies. Thankfully I changed my topic to something completely different, but my notes are still around somewhere, whether in some random corner of my laptop or my mind. I interviewed many members of Camacho’s inner circle (at that time), and frankly was not impressed. It was clear to me then, that Camacho was an empty suit. Someone very similar to Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush when they were elected. They give off not an aura of capability or intelligence, but a pleasing sort of emptiness, or in another way, a comforting cluelessness. All of these three political figures are not people that you would ever feel are smarter than you, and as such you can root for them in ways, you couldn’t for someone you felt was your equal or your better.
In the case of Ronald Reagan, watching him govern and wrestle with facts and reality was like watching your grandfather wrestle with email or attempt to understand the E! network. You know he can’t really do it, but you are cheering him on (and quietly chuckling) at every step of the way. In the case of Bush, watching him be President and struggle with words and sentences, was like watching one of those inspirational sports dramas, where an entire school or team bands together to tutor and help one of their beloved friends pass a test or pass a class, so that he can join them on the field for Friday’s game. That was Bush’s true power, he said it clearly in one of his many creative misstatements, when he said that people “misunderestimate him.”
For Camacho, he is the same. He is not stupid like Bush, he is not old like Reagan, but there is an air of cluelessness and more importantly harmlessness in him. When you see Camacho, it’s so difficult to find an immediate way in which you could be threatened by him, or that he could be better than you. He didn’t do much before he became governor (at least not anything unique or different from others of similar elite social or economic class), and he doesn’t talk in fancy ways, or speak with a heavy accent, or appear to represent anything in particular, and so that’s the perfect, harmless person that most people want in charge of them. As I’ve written about before on this blog, when Underwood ran against Camacho in 2002 and 2006, he had this working against him. Underwood represents so many threats to people. He makes people feel stupid, he makes them feel less Chamorro, he makes them feel angry because he’s supposed to racist or a Chamorro supremacist. In contrast to Camacho, Robert Underwood seems like Angel Santos of the early 1990’s, or Howard Hemsing of today.

Before continuing, I should note that when I say all this, I am speaking about perceptions, not the way that Camacho really is. I don’t know Felix Camacho personally, and I’ve met him briefly a couple of times and so perhaps to those who do know him he is a genius and the most well-informed, policy wonk of a political leader this island has ever known. But all this is actually irrelevant to what I’m saying, because no one really votes for a leader based on what’s inside. Since, none of us are Felix Camacho or Robert Underwood’s spleen, liver or gofes, we don’t know what’s inside him. Even our claims to what is truly in them are all snippets or scraps of discourse that circles around them and sometime appear to be consistent, sometimes contradictory.

One of the key scraps of discursive material that made Felix Camacho, who he is today, meaning the current Governor of Guam, was the legacy that he inherited from his father. And it is from here that we have the first historical emergence, that which Marx would have called “tragic.”
Carlos G. Camacho, the father of Felix Camacho had the honor of being Guam’s first elected governor in 1970. He was not re-elected however four years later, when he lost to Ricardo Bordallo. When I was considering doing a master’s thesis on Guam politics, I did some research into Carlos Camacho to see his impact on Guam and what his legacy was in peoples’ memories. In my mind, since Camacho was the first elected governor, and since his time wasn’t too long ago, there might be a permanence to his legacy.
I interviewed a number of people who were of his peer group, who were in government service before or after his time. I also interviewed those who were of age when Camacho was in power, to see what their memories of that era were, and what they felt Camacho had accomplished. I did not find anywhere near as much as I hope I would. Newspapers from the time, gave me plenty of details, but when I would interview people about it, to try and determine what sort of living legacy Camacho still held, the word that regularly came to my mind was tragic.
Camacho was most well known for traveling to Vietnam to visit with Chamorro troops there. He was also known for trying to reverse the brain drain that Guam had been experiencing steadily since 1950. Chamorros had been leaving the island in huge numbers for education or through military service, and weren’t returning to the island. Camacho, actively made efforts to seek out educated and qualified Chamorros to return to the island to work in the government or fill critical private sectors positions. Camacho was also known for being governor when the first post-Organic Act protest of the US military presence on Guam took place; when Chamorro rights activists, members of the Guam legislature and local environmentalists all worked together to prevent the US Navy from building an ammunition wharf at Sella Bay.
There were other things as well which we could include in Camacho’s legacy. But strangely enough the thing which I hear most about Carlos Camacho, was that he was someone who drank too much. He was someone who couldn’t really handle the job, and relied on alcohol to deal with the strain and thus let others (such as his Lt. Governor Kurt Moylan) run the government. This wasn’t something which random people claimed, but something which I heard from those who worked for him or with him in the Government of Guam. It was something even one of my aunties who worked in his office admitted to. In the recollections of most all of those I interviewed, it was this loss of promise that made Camacho such a tragic, na’triste na figure. He had this great honor and privilege, but did not and could not use it effectively. He could not bring himself up to the task, even although he was the first elected governor, could not sustain himself to be re-elected in 1974.
I’m aware of some of the problems with what I’ve said so far. These ways of remembering Camacho are common with many leaders. This is similar to the way in which President Clinton is remembered for giving an intern (despensa yu’) “a privileged place on his staff,” or that Carl Gutierrez is remembered for being corrupt. But, this sort of informal remembering of Camacho is crucial since he should be remembered in the same way other famous or historic firsts are remembered. He was supposed to represent, the maturation of the Chamorro people, their first chance at some semblance of self-government and democracy since the Spanish-Chamorro Wars. Regardless of whether your take on recent Guam history is a progressive one, fueled by acts and thoughts of Chamorros resistance to colonialism, or a assimilationist one, where Chamorros are simply subjects whose unfolding of their spirit is from a non-American one to a real American one, Camacho’s election represented a huge step on that journey. For Camacho not to be remembered in a way resembling that status is, as I’ve said several times already, tragic, a clear and haunting failure.
Felix Camacho is, right now, poised on being the farcical ghost to his father’s historic figure. I will give Camacho some credit for things which he has improved in his almost eight years of office, but one thing in which he most likely felt for four years would be his greatest work, is on the verge of being his biggest and most dangerous blunder. The military buildup, was something which I’m sure Camacho felt was a divine blessing on the plate from which people would later pick at to imagine his legacy. It would bring some economic stability and some improvement to Guam, infuse the island with a wide array of new Federal funds. The island would usher in a golden age of prosperity, and he would get credit for it. By simply allowing the buildup, and doing far more praying, wishing and hoping than anything else, he would still be the one who would be remembered for steering Guam in this direction.

The past three months, during which we saw public opinion and reporting of the buildup shift very dramatically, the security of that positive legacy is very much in jeopardy. Camacho, who was just a year ago, the one who the island would honor as the Governor who brought Uncle Sam and his 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force back to Guam, might now be remembered as the guy who let the US screw up the island even worse than it already is. Although most people on Guam do see the health and stability of the island through American interventions, through Federal salape’ infusions or through increasing this form of American presence, the DEIS public comment period did put a very different face on this particular instance of very radical militaristic Americanization. It cast it in such a new and critical light, that Camacho went from being someone who was leading by allowing this to happen, to someone who was daring to let this catastrophe happen to Guam, without even speaking out about it!
I’m simply speculating here. As I said earlier, I don’t know what is in Camacho’s head. But if I had to guess what has been going through his mind these past few weeks, I would guess that the feeling of being that farce of history, that sad and laughable addendum to his father’s tragic stamp on Guam’s history, might have been weighing on him. I doubt that he was thinking about this in the terms I am using, but after serving as Governor for seven years, with less than 12 months left to go, he is no longer governing to get elected, he is governing to be remembered, and so even if these questions wouldn’t have daunted him before, they surely must be now.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Makpo' I Tiempon DEIS

The dreaded DEIS public comment period is finally over.

I made the blog banner above (at the top of the page) to help highlight the importance of the past three months. For those of you who can't tell, the image is a drawing of Sumahi, while she is struggling to read through the many volumes of the DEIS, and sitting next to her is a timebomb, whose clock indicates that the amount of time left during which Sumahi has to defuse to bomb is simply "not enough." Annok na ti magof i mata-na, ya gi este na halacha na tiempo, dipotsi todu i manmata-ta (giya Guahan) taiguihi.

The past few weeks and months have been crazy, literally too many things happening for me to keep up. As I've been writing about in my "Buildup/Breakdown" posts, the island has changed significantly since last November. The urgency of the deadlines for DEIS comments, generic fears over what sort of negative impacts the buildup would bring to Guam, and the everyday sentiments of colonial frustration and feelings of disrespect, have all combined to move this island from being one where the overwhelming majority of the people openly supported the military buildup, to around half openly not supporting it.

In the final weeks of the comment period, being against the buildup or being at least critical of it was somehow cool. Students in my class were doing it (on their own, without me prompting it). Government agencies and elected officials were going farther than every before in speaking against the buildup. When I would meet with friends we could ask each other not only "hafa tatatmanu hao?" but also "kao esta un na'funhayan iyo-mu comment?" did you already finish your comment?

But, as in any moment where a radical sea change is taking place, one wishes that one could simply sit back and observe as things move from one place to another and most people have no idea that they've changed or the discursive terrain beneath them has changed as well. But instead, you tend to find yourself caught up in the moment, moving with it, struggling to build some new power or carve out some crucial space as the flood of indeterminacy cascades over everything. And so, while the end of this comment period does force me (and so many others) to reflect on what happens next, I'm also grateful its over, since these past few weeks have been full of intense writing and organizing. I helped organize people who had been reading the DEIS to write short columns for the Marianas Variety. I helped write dozens of comments, both for individuals and groups. Gave dozens of formal and informal talks and was interviewed by both international and local media. I along with other professors at UOG organized our students to write hundreds of comments about the DEIS. Gi kada diha gi este na tiempon DEIS, kalang sigi mapugao i patten i tahtaotao-hu. Mabitatangga yu' guatu, ya mabatsasala yu' guatu lokkue' achagigu.

I'm considering for the next week or so, sharing some of the better comments that I've either worked on or that people have shared with me during this critical time in Guam's recent history.

But, as we've seen in the past few days. Despite the fact that the military did not (and most likely will not) extend the comment period any further, there is a very good chance that they may need to either start the DEIS all over again, or at least re-write it and then undergo another public comment period. When you produce something of that size, the obvious strategy you are using is massive, engulfing, paralyzing obfuscation. You concoct something so mampos dongkolu that no one would even bother reading it, and even if they tried, they would never find any of the gotcha or "buena" stuff anyways. But, as I've said alot in the past three months, creating something that big can also be a horrible weakness. Sure, the larger the haystack the harder it is to find a needle. But, since the DEIS doesn't work like a haystack and needles, the larger you make it, the greater the chance of not just some errors, but numerous errors. And in the case of this DEIS, the errors are just as overwhelming as the size of the document itself. Some sections are so grossly inadequate, you have to wonder if like a desperate college student, they simply threw this thing together on Nov. 19th 2009, hoping that no one would read it carefully when it went public the next day.

Hekkua' ti hu tungo' hafa para ta fafana' gi este na banda, lao bai hu fa'sahnge este pa'go. But for today, bai hu deskananaihon, I'm going to rest a little bit, and focus on other, less serious things.

There's a Test cricket match between South Africa and India that is in its fifth day today and looks like it will be a very close finish (with India possibly winning, unless South Africa can hold out for a draw). I'm hoping to not watch this match, since I have no idea how I would ever be able to ever get to watch any international cricket matches, unless one of them takes place in Agat or Tamuning. But I'm hoping to at least follow the commentary on Cricinfo.

I'm also hoping tonight to play some Rock Star Band: The Beatles tonight. Playing and singing along to the songs in that game, help me relax. Its also nice, because Sumahi is finally learning to memorize and sing songs a little bit more complex than when she accidentally mashes up together "A-B-C-D..." and "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." So for a handful of songs such as "Don't Let Me Down" featured in the video below, Sumahi will try and sing along with me.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Bill 185 - Legislate Love

Last Friday while I was opening my grandfather's shop at the Chamorro Village, I took a break to head over to Chief Kephua's circle where a wave was being held to bring awareness to Bill 185 which the Guam Legislature will soon debate. The bill has been very controversial since it was first proposed as it would provide for civil partnerships and therefore legal couple rights/benefits for gay couples.

I've included below some pictures and a press release written by Guam Youth Congress speaker Derek Baza Hills about the wave.

If you are interested in learning more about these issues you can follow the GALA Guam Twitter feed.

Proponents of Civil Rights and Bill 185 “Civil Partnership” to hold Thank You wave

(Hagåtña, Guam – Thursday; February 4, 2010) As the Guam Legislature counts down until the expected February 22 scheduled session date, Bill 185 will appear before Senators and debate on the merits of the bill. As over thousands of families, friends and proponents ponder on whether which elected official will vote -yes on bill 185, supporters will host a “Thank You, Guam” wave.

The wave is dated to be held on February 12, 2010 at 4:30-6:00 pm at the Chief Quipuaha loop in Hagatna. As one of the advocates of this sensitive piece of legislation, I am inviting all, men and women, youth and adult who feel and believe in Equality to partake in this event and let the People of Guam know how Civil Rights means to you and that it should be a right not a privilege. Since June of 2009, many came out in opposition to the civil partnership bill not because they believe same-gendered partners are less looked upon but based on their religious upbringing.

In comparison, there were just as much if not more who showed up at town hall meetings and public hearings to express their belief in this civil issue and that same gendered civil partnerships deserve to be recognized for the legal benefits and rights afforded to heterosexual unions. I encourage our youth to execute what they have learned in Social Studies and American Government classes on Civil Rights. This is a movement for the future. Moreover, a fight we must win.

Derick Baza Hills
Speaker, Guam Youth Congress


Monday, February 15, 2010

My Laptop Was Stolen

My car was broken into over the weekend and my laptop (and the car stereo) were stolen.

My laptop was like a literal part of me, with my thoughts, works and photos of more than 12 years there. I have an external hard-drive, but its not working and so I had to take it in to get it fixed. Even if they fix it though I still won't have anything that didn't email to myself over the past year, since that's the last time I backed up my hard drive. But if they can at least give me that I'll feel much better.

I feel so incredibly stupid about this because I accidentally took it with me when I took my class hiking. I had meant to drop it home, but in the rush of trying to prepare for the hike I had left it in the car. When I realized what I had done, I hid the laptop in the back of the car, so no one looking in could see it.

Unfortunately for me, the thieves who stole it got lucky. They broke the window to my car to get the stereo and while searching around, stumbled upon the laptop. They broke into two other cars that were parked by the road, and according to police, they believed that the same crooks were responsible for at least half a dozen other break ins, that morning.

I spent yesterday searching for the laptop at the Flea Market and Pawn Shops, but couldn't find anything.

I will survive this, but things will be very difficult for a while. Thousands of photos are gone. All the work that I did preparing for classes. Blog posts that I didn't publish yet. Countless videos that I didn't upload to Youtube yet.


Its a Toshiba, with a dark blue cover. It has several stickers on the top. A Shoyoroll sticker, a Fokkai sticker, a Oba Skoba sticker, an Amnesty International sticker and a Sumahi for Governor sticker. Even if you see a laptop with a bunch of stickers torn off, that could be mine.

It was taken with my laptop bag and in that bag was a number of different items from the 2008 Democratic National Convention, and so if you see anyone with stickers or pins from that convention, please let me know.

The stereo that was stolen was the kind that you have to flip open to insert a CD, and was silver on the front.


The only small sense of justice that I get out of this mess, is that the stereo they stole was broken.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Buildup/Breakdown #11: Matulaika i Siniente

Desde i fine’nina na ma mentona este na “buildup” unu ha’ na sinangån-ña Si Maga’låhi Felix Camacho.

“Tunas mo’na.”

Achokka’ mampos dongkålu este na “buildup” ya meggai na na annok na manera na mannina’dåñu hit ni’ este, tåya’ nai na Si Camacho na guaha sinangån-ña kontra i “buildup.” Kada na

Tåya’ nai ha sångan na ti siña ta cho’gue este. Tåya’ nai ha sångan na ti debi di ta cho’gue este. Tåya’ nai ha sångan na båba pat ti possipble este.

Tåya’ nai ha sångan todu este na klasi siha…esta ki på’go.

Para Hamyo ni’ mangkokontra este na “buildup,” hunggan hu tungo’ na achokka’ matulaika i hinasso-ña i Maga’låhi, ti gof matulaika, sa’ ha sapopotte ha’, lao malago gui’ na mana’parañaihon.

Lao gi i mas kabåles na litråtu, este na matulaika gof impottånte. Todu maigi’on, kontodu ayu na kalang mampos dongkålu ya kalang ti fuyong’on, siña maikak. Ya kontudu este na “buildup” maskeseha i pinetpot-ña, siña mana’påra. Ya i mas dikike’ na patte, i mas etigo’ na detail siña tumutuhun i pineddong.

Kontodu i mas mampos dongkålu yan fotte na “army,” siña mana’para annai unu ha' na sindålu tumolleng.

Camacho asks Defense to slow buildup

By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno • • January 30, 2010

Saying Guam simply can't absorb the shock of a population surge in four years, Gov. Felix Camacho is asking the Defense Department to relocate about 8,000 Marines and their 9,000 dependents to Guam in eight years instead of four.

Rather than completing the Marines' relocation from Okinawa to Guam by 2014, Camacho is requesting the Defense Department for a phase-in time extending through 2018.

"I believe that a request for an extension would help lessen the impact of the military buildup on Guam. In fact, during our village workshop on Jan. 20, I expressed my intention to ask the United States to consider extending their deadline for the buildup," according to Camacho.

"The extension will greatly impact every area of public concern. It will lessen the pressure currently being placed on our people to accommodate a significant influx in our population," the governor added.

Camacho on Thursday wrote to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus requesting the delay.

Guam's population is expected to soar -- with 79,178 additional people in 2014, an increase of almost half the current population. And as the population increases, the military buildup is expected to create 33,000 new jobs by 2014, according to the military's draft Environmental Impact Statement. In 2014 alone, the government of Guam would see $325 million in additional revenue -- an increase of about 60 percent of its current annual budget, according to the impact statement.

Island residents have until mid-February to comment on the draft EIS.

The proposed delay in the completion of the Marines' move, according to the governor, "will lessen the impact on our territory, to give us more time to make preparations, and that affects everything from the number of wells that need to be drilled, the number of workers that need to be here at a certain time."

The island also needs more time to expand the island's only commercial port of entry for construction materials for the military buildup, according to the governor.

"I don't have a set date, but I think that moving it beyond 2014 to even 2018, a four-year push, would be better for us. It is a more sustained growth. There's no peak and a bust," Camacho said in an interview yesterday.

There will be no post-buildup recession as predicted in the draft impact statement, he added.

David Leddy, president of the Guam Chamber of Commerce, said the governor's request is consistent with the Defense Department's revisions to the buildup timetable.

"We think a delay is good for the island as it will afford us more time to assimilate the changes that are coming forth and for more of our local businesses to participate," Leddy said.

Gerry Perez, a member of the initial group of Guam Chamber officials who started knocking on doors in Washington, D.C., almost a decade ago to invite the military to expand its presence on Guam as the island faced an economic downturn starting with the economic crisis, said yesterday Guam also needs to consider America's national security interests.

Voicing his personal opinion, Perez, who also is the Guam Visitors Bureau general manager, said: "I can say that our original objective of attracting a larger military footprint to expand our economic base, provide local employment, and stimulate other economic activity was a success."

"The key question now before the island's leadership is how best to negotiate and harness this military buildup opportunity in a manner that benefits the local community while satisfying our national security interests," Perez said.

"Quite frankly, it is the reality of funding, capacity constraints, and the timely resolution of differences in the magnitude and dispersal of this (military expansion footprint) that will ultimately determine the buildup schedule, whether in 2014 or beyond," Perez said.

The relocation of Marines from Okinawa to Guam is part of a Japan-United States pact to reduce the presence of U.S. troops in Okinawa.

Japan has agreed to pay $6 billion of the $10.2 billion relocation cost under an agreement that was finalized last year -- before a new set of Japanese elected leaders came into office.

Later last year, however, some of the newly elected leaders in Japan began to suggest they want all U.S. troops out of Okinawa completely. In recent weeks, Japan officials hinted they may ask for the bilateral agreement to be renegotiated.

The relocation of Marines to Guam is part of a broader military expansion plan on Guam, which includes building an Army missile defense facility, and accommodations and wharf facilities for recurring visits of an aircraft carrier or two, according to preliminary military plans.

Vice Speaker Benjamin Cruz and Delegate Madeleine Bordallo both have written letters in support of extending the amount of time residents can comment on the buildup's draft impact statement.

Without the granting of the 45-day extension request, Guam residents have until Feb. 18, Guam time, to comment. The deadline to comment is Feb. 17, Washington time.

Bordallo was unavailable for comment yesterday. The Defense Department's Joint Guam Program Office, which coordinates buildup issues, did not have an immediate comment.

Sen. Judith Guthertz also has called for the Marines' move to be stretched "over a period of eight years instead of only two years."

The island would have to accommodate not only the Marines and their dependents, but also workers from off island who will contribute to the population boom.

"We reported on the availability of workforce housing and all of the Guam Land Use Commission's approval of all those properties in terms of the needs of the H2 workforce," said Department of Land Management Director Chris Duenas.

He said the agency presented more than 130 comments on the draft EIS to the governor's office.

The department also visited JGPO officials and requested a discussion between JGPO, the governor's office and the Legislature.

"The military and JGPO should go to the governor's office and the Legislature to discuss the possibilities of what they would do in terms of land exchange and what that would mean for the people of Guam."

The department has been working with the Chamorro Land Trust and the Ancestral Land Commissions to ensure they all have the correct inventory on the properties on Guam, Duenas said.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Buildup/Breakdown #10: Chumilong

For those who don't know, the word "chumilong" is Chamorro for "to become equal."

One of the most interesting things to come out of the DEIS comment period and the flurry of activist activity that has taken place, is that after four long and frustrating years, the media does actually start to treat the buildup is an issue which has more than one side. For years, the Pacific Daily News set the tone making primary any positive information related to the buildup and generally minimizing any possible negative issues. The Marianas Variety to its credit often has problems talking about an issue in a very full or complete way. They tend to give one side of the story in most of their pieces, and then another completely different story in another piece. Part of this comes from their regular printing of press releases.

In general though, the buildup, even if it has "some questions or concerns" there was still this impression that it was nearly all good, and that the voices of those who say it is good are the big and important words of story, while those who disagree, are the quiet, almost irritating comments at a story's end. They are there in the story, but not in a balanced way, they tend to be the concluding remark, short, sweet, without much basis or evidence, presented in such a way that you can't really take it seriously. Those who supported the buildup were crafted into the prose of a news piece with authority, with commonsensical weight and seriousness to their statements. Those who were cited as the other side of the issue, those who were critical or resistant, tended to be characterized in less serious ways, and sometimes were quoted in ways that were barely critical.

In May of 2006 I wrote about this on my blog in a post titled "How the Interests of the Military Become More Than Our Own:"

It has been only recently that apprehensiveness about the arrival of these 8,000 Marines is being recorded by the island's leaders. Prior to that, the discussion seemed to follow the two most pathetically simple forms imagineable, first the delusional "what will we do with all that cash!?" and second, "how can we be good hosts and fix up the island for their arrival?!" I remember clearly the initial articles in the PDN covering this military increase. It was truly pathetic, because the only real critique the PDN offered in contrast to all the excitement and hoopla over the economic windfall of these 8,000 bodies and their families, was 1. our infrastructure sucks we can't support them, even though we love them! 2. they better respect!

Media teaches complex lessons in what appear to be very simple statements. First of all, the first critique is hardly a critique at all, since given the universe of statements that these sorts of remarks enter into, they only make the case that more military is not just good, but necessary. The Chamber of Commerce and other rabidly capitalist
organizations in Guam gain their super powers not just from the sacrifice of Chamorros on the altar of war and colonialism, but because of the way the eternally crumbling infrastructure of Guam, plays into their arguments of the need for the military. By saying that the poor infrastructure of Guam is an argument against the influx of Marines, you are actually arguing for their arrival, because of the way it is commonly understood that it is only an arrival such as this which can cure those sorts of material ills. The paradox here being that only the arrival of these Marines can fix the problems which prevent their arrival.

The second reason I've pasted below direct from the October 31st, 2005 article in the PDN, "Marines Welcomed Warily,"

Byron Garrido, 43, of Yigo said he is not excited to see the shift of Marines to Guam. "At first, I thought it would be good, but then think back to the past," he said describing how he has seen fights break out between local residents and military personnel. Garrido said he hopes military officials will brief all troops who move to Guam about the culture on Guam and how to respect that culture. "Respect, learn where you are at," he said. "You are not in the states, this is Guam."

Here we encounter a similar problem, where the critique leaves unscathed a number of assumptions that must be tampered with.

Through the laundry list of reasons why we should support this miltiary increase we see a very important dash of culture/history (love of the US from liberation) mixed with a deluge of real-world/material factors most importantly economic. On the otherside of the issue, we have a very large dose of culture (respect us!) but little to no mention of the negative (or less than rosy) impact of the Marines in economic or material terms.

One thing that the media tends to teach very well is to what realms of life authority and value belong to, or emmanate from, and to where else should this authority be connected to. Take for example this common justification for voting for Felix Camacho in 2002, "he's a businessman, he'll know how to fix the island's economic problems." Underwood on the other hand was a teacher and therefore will only know how to fix the schools. These assumptions are actually pretty ridiculous for so many reasons, I feel like my brain would try to escape through my eye sockets if I even try to explain why. A connection like this however is common in the media, especially in a newspaper such as the PDN which is tied very closely to the Chamber of Commerce and other business interests in Guam (in other words, articulate that those who want control over the economy (for profits, for their business), should have the most control over it (but only because they have the know how to help all of us).

What we are meant to learn from the PDN coverage of the pros and cons of this and nearly all military increases, is that the positions of those in favor and support for the increase are bolstered and justified through "real world" arguments. Stone cold economic indicators and facts. Those against the increases appear in the media without any such support. There is no economic data to support whatever they say, common sense is definitely not on their side (there is for example no argument that if they don't respect our culture, interest rates will fall). The only argument they really do have is a cultural one, which as I've most recently started to write about after reading The Nation and Its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories by
Partha Chatterjee, seems to always crumple beneath someone who proposes to speak on behalf of the "material" or the "real" world.
As the island has shifted in the past two and a half months, so too has the media. There has been an equalizing effect. It may be small at times, and so people may not even notice it or be aware of it. It doesn't keep the PDN from still regularly reminding the people of Guam at their are owned by the United States and should just do whatever they can to embody that life as "the tip of America's spear." Nor does it keep them from writing buildup articles, which only for those who are really paying attention, can see them as angry retorts against some errant discourse floating around out their that irritates the editors. But what it has done is created far more space than before for the other side of the debate. What it has done is created a more frequent possibility that an opposing view on the buildup will not only be reported, but be in some cases, given the same amount of weight as a supporting view. I have to admit, that after years of unofficialy blackouts from news outlets on certain topics and on certain groups, it has been freshing to see an insurgent grassroots group treating like such a major player, or as something which could even be considered as opposition to the Chamber of Commerce.


Both sides of buildup debate release lists:
Chamber, Coalition post 14 separate reasons on their Web sites
By Amritha Alladi
Pacific Daily News
January 19, 2010

Increased crime rates, stresses on the public school system, and more sex and drug trafficking are reasons the Guåhan Coalition for Peace and Justice says the military buildup's economic opportunities will be overshadowed by its negative impacts.

Responding to the Chamber of Commerce's "14 Reasons Why We Need the Military Buildup," the Guåhan Coalition of Peace and Justice released "14 reasons Why We Don't Need the Military Buildup."

According to the list posted on the Chamber's Web site, the relocation of 8,000 Marines and their 9,000 dependents to Guam will provide revenues "our government desperately needs ... in order to provide services our people depend on." The list includes a revenue surge, infrastructural improvements and investments in health-care facilities and equipment as benefits resulting from the buildup.

Yet the coalition argues there is no mention of the 26,000 jobs that will no longer be needed by 2017, according to Audrey Ward, a member of the coalition.

Among the things listed by the coalition of what the draft EIS doesn't provide are solutions for job competition between Guam residents and 9,000 military dependents scheduled to arrive.

"There are no training options outlined in the EIS to help unemployed Guamanians better qualify for buildup jobs," the coalition list states. "The military will not be helping locals get any of the positions they are offering."

Neither has the local government, for the most part. The bulk of job training being offered in connection with the military buildup has been provided by the Guam Contractors Association's Trades Academy, with some construction-related programs at Guam Community College.

The coalition also says tourism will be hindered by an increase in crime.

Plus, some tourism expansion opportunities also may curbed, too, according to Gary Hiles, chief economist with the Guam Department of Labor.

"Increased military activities will open up new economic opportunities, but at the same time, will limit or preclude operation or expansion of other productive economic activities which could employ a large number of people in more labor intensive activities, such as tourism, due to increased land use and access restrictions and create costs of opportunities lost for other activities," Hiles said.

However, Gerry Perez, the general manager of the Guam Visitors Bureau, has said that the island has been starved for cash in recent years to make necessary upgrades to the island's infrastructure and tourism attractions; the buildup would not only widen Guam's tourism market, but help fund some of those improvements, he said.

"The military buildup will stimulate new markets, attract higher-spending business travelers and generate more income to pay for improvements in public service," Perez said.

Hiles also said while the buildup will bring more jobs to the island and more revenue to the government of Guam, it will also create substantial additional capital investment for infrastructure and increased operating costs in public safety, health care and education.

But if some residents have been strongly opposed to the buildup's negative effects on the local culture and environment, local businessman James Adkins said they haven't suggested any other viable alternatives that will solve Guam's economic problems.

"We have to have something to bring cash money back onto the island," Adkins said in late December. "We are spending more money than we are bringing in."

According to Ernie Galito, deputy general manager at the Guam Visitors Bureau, Guam's proximity to Asia and its status as an American territory opens up possibilities to develop other industries.

"Guam could develop finance, insurance, arbitration or ship registry industries," Galito said. "Of course, much of the market study work has yet to be done, but these examples would seem to be the most viable opportunities outside of tourism."


Chamber's support for buildup meets criticism
by Heather Hauswirth

Guam - The back-and-forth between the Guam Chamber of Commerce and the We Are Guahan Coalition over fourteen points in support of the military buildup has created a bit of friction between members of the island's business community and coalition members who feel that the buildup will marginalize the people of Guam. With time ticking for comments to be submitted on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement and buildup plans underway, we delve into the two-step the Chamber has to dance with all the special interests.

For president of the Guam Chamber of Commerce David Leddy, the Chamber's list of fourteen reasons why Guam needs the military build up is entrepreneurial in spirit. "As with any island-based economy with very limited natural resources, our options are limited, and the military economy has always co-existed with the tourism economy so we presented the fourteen reasons simply to demonstrate the positive attributes that could be derived from its growth," he said.

However, We Are Guahan members don't see eye to eye with the Chamber. They fired back with a fourteen-point rebuttal of reasons we do not need the military buildup. The Coalition boasts some 3,000 members, including Facebook fans. Cara Flores Mays is a core member who works as a self-employed web developer.

"As a businessowner, I do stand to benefit from the buildup, however I don't think it is good for our island. There is the idea that there will be more tax revenue coming in, and of course there will be more tax revenue, but there will also be a huge increase in service demand," said Mays.

Mays says the Coalition's concerns are many, but from an economic standpoint they fear the very heart of the island's economy would be in jeopardy. "I would say there needs to be a balance between what is best for the community. I don't know how the tourists will feel about it, but we will no longer be able to promote ourselves as a family friendly destination if our red light district grows," she said.

The Chamber president meanwhile welcomes differing opinions but wants it clear that the organization is against land condemnation. "Our Chamber members are people who live and work here in Guam and make their living in Guam. The Chamber though it's the voice of the business community, the local business community- first and foremost we are an advocate for our community and we do not want the people of Guam marginalized in this buildup process," said Leddy.

Yet Mays maintains that the Chamber's math overall just doesn't add up, saying, "If you balance the increased revenue with the increased demand and that's just a small portion of it, I'm just wondering how the Chamber manages that equation and how we end up benefiting from the increased tax revenue. I'd like to see that done; I'd like to see the math done on that."



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